Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the global climate change conference in Paris yesterday and met a range of world leaders, underscoring what he described as Israel’s strong position on the world stage.
The conference, COP21 attracted around 150 heads of state and government, in what has become not only a forum to discuss global environmental issues, but also an opportunity to show solidarity with France following the Paris terror attacks. Netanyahu addressed the conference and emphasised that Israel is a pioneer in solar energy and, “We are a world leader in making the use of water more efficient, therefore more energy efficient.” He explained, “Everything that I’m talking about here has one goal. It’s to optimize our resources; optimize the way we allocate our resources,” adding, “Israel has had to optimize all its life. We had no material resources.”
Characterising Israel as “a small country with big ideas,” he said, “I believe that it’s not enough that we have those ideas, or that we apply those ideas in our own country. We are eager to share them with you, both individually and as a collective body as well.”
On the side-lines of the conference, Netanyahu came face to face with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas for the first time since 2010. The two leaders shook hands, Netanyahu commenting that it was simply “protocol.” Abbas also took to the podium and accused Israel of attacking the Palestinian environment. He said, “Our resources are being usurped, our trees are being uprooted, our agriculture is being destroyed.”
Meanwhile, Netanyahu met with numerous world leaders, including brief conversations with Prime Minister David Cameron and US President Barack Obama. He also held longer sessions with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, India’s Narendra Modi, Japan’s Shinzo Abe, Australia’s Malcolm Turnbull and Canada’s new premier Justin Trudeau, praising the “terrific relations” between Israel and Canada. Netanyahu told reporters that his busy schedule in Paris demonstrated that “Israel’s standing in the word is very firm.”